Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Funatical: Taking Comedy to the Extreme

posted by Nell Minow

“You can’t hate anybody when you’ve laughed with them,” said headliner Ahmed Ahmed, quoting Rabbi-turned-comic Bob Alper. That’s the idea behind the Funatical comedy tour, in Washington, D.C. this week. The stars of the show had a press conference at the National Press Club to talk about comedy as a universal language that can bring people together, smash stereotypes, and do more than military and diplomacy to create bonds of shared humanity. The comedians who appear in the show make audiences laugh at their similarities and their differences in a way that brings people together rather than one that plays to their fears, in what one of them called “an exchange of dialog with humor and art.”

The participants in the press conference said that they confronted their own biases as well as those biased against them. Detroit native Omar Regan, a convert to Islam, said that he sees Muslims who have never met an African-American Muslim before and Christians who “do not associate coolness with being a Muslim. And he discovered his own prejudices as he worked on this tour with Middle Eastern natives who are Jewish, Christian, and Sikh. “I became what I despise, not being open to understand different kinds of people.” Backstage, though, there is not a lot of discussion about political, cultural, or religious differences. “We get to know each other as comics,” he said, rather than by nationality or religion. “We ask each other, ‘How’s the audience?’” Maria Shehata, raised in Ohio, the daughter of Christians from Egypt, said that when she was growing up, kids would ask her if she spoke hieroglyphic and told her Egyptians were extinct. “I tried to be as white as possible,” she told the group. Like the other comics, she was grateful for an opportunity to present a positive image to counter the headlines that make it seem that everyone in the Mid-East is a fanatic or a terrorist.

The tour has appeared throughout the Mid-East, and it was fascinating to hear about their experiences. In some places, even people who did not speak English would come to the show as a social event. Even though stand-up comedy is very much a Western tradition and they were not sure how the audience would respond to one person standing at a microphone telling jokes, they were pleasantly surprised to see that through YouTube and (mostly pirated) DVDs. And while comics operate under various restrictions (some venues prohibit any jokes about sex, drugs, or politics, others allow anything but making fun of the royal family) they are happily enjoying their adjustment to the pleasures of freedom of speech. They were delighted to  be asked, “Do you have any Mubarak jokes?”

Ahmed Ahmed’s new film, Just Lke Us, winner of “Best Documentary Feature” at the Tallahassee Film Festival, is the story of cultures of a comedy tour in Dubai, Lebanon, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.  It will be in theaters this summer.  Read Omar Regan’s comments on Huffington Post or become a fan on Facebook to learn more.

 

YouTube Preview Image



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment AusetHanna84

    Went to Thursday night show with my family. As a fellow Egyptian we were proud see Maria and Ahmed Ahmed perform. It was so interesting to see comedians from different backgrounds. The host of the show was bi-racial (Iranian/Black)and had us laughing the whole night. Great show! I hope they come back to DC soon.

    • Nell Minow

      That’s great! We’re going to the show tomorrow night and I’m really looking forward to it. Thanks for writing!

Previous Posts

Tusk
You can make a good movie about slackers, for example "Slackers," from Richard Linklater and "Clerks" from Kevin Smith. But you can't make a good movie by a slacker, and Smith does not seem wi

posted 5:59:40pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

This is Where I Leave You
A toddler carries his little potty out in front of the house so he can try out his new-found skill in public. Twice. Plus another time when the contents of the potty are first displayed for the

posted 5:59:39pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

The Maze Runner
Yes, it's another dystopic YA trilogy (actually, there's a fourth volume, a prequel), and yes, only a teenager with fabulous cheekbones can save the day. But "The Maze Runner" is not a lesser repeat. It is a worth addition to the genre, an absorbing drama with surprising turns and even more surprisi

posted 5:59:23pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

The Art of John Alvin -- Designer of Iconic Movie Posters
Any fan of film history and design will love this magnificent new book devoted to the iconic movie posters and other artwork from John Alvin, assembled and written by his widow, Andrea Alv

posted 8:00:05am Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Guest Post: Tara Sonenshine on "Calvary"
My deepest thanks to Tara Sonenshine for allowing me to publish her thoughtful comments on "Calvary," starring Brendan Gleeson as a troubled priest in a small Irish t

posted 11:19:17pm Sep. 17, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.